Summer Swept, mixed media on collage on goldenrod paper, 30" x 20", 2023
Chicago comes alive each summer with its beautiful lakefront and breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, bright cerulean blue skies, plush canopies of trees, colorful gardens of all shapes and sizes, and a wonderful abundance of urban energy. As an artist drawn to warm weather and being outdoors, soaking in the endless visual displays of nature in combination with the city's built environment fills me with a dizzying amount of inspiration to consider and explore in the cooler months ahead.
I spent much of my summer roaming the lakefront, soaking in the views and, if lucky, returning home with a variety of found objects. My favorites of these are small rusty objects with their worn patinas and odd shapes. Natural forms make their way to my studio as well, especially things like feathers, bark, dried grasses and native plants. Some of these special finds are added directly to my work, others are used for making collagraph plates, and some are used as drawing tools. Knowing that they have a local history is important to me.
Working with the subject of landscape in combination with abstraction is also important to me -- fusing place with sensory impressions. Exploring natural spaces, sketching on-site, and taking photographs begins the process but embedded memory, visceral responses, and the way that sense of place becomes embodied in one's physical being drives my creative practice. As does the reality of climate change. Chicago was directly impacted by the Canadian wildfires this summer and the air was unbreathable for several weeks. Instead of blue skies, we had a dome of odd, non-color above and strange, dull light all around us. This was thankfully a short-lived climate event and mild compared to the more extreme weather events happening around the world but still a difficult reality right at our doorstep .
See Saw Summer Shade, mixed media on collage on goldenrod paper, 30" x 20", 2023
My current mixed-media paintings are a response to the physical environment and what is found there -- its many colors, textures, forms, and expressive energies as well as the many challenges that our planet is currently facing. These works begin with paper collages made from torn paper scraps, repurposed sketches, book pages, old correspondence, and junk mail. These patched together surfaces become textured, pieced-together environments that are layered with ink brushwork, gesso, color pencil, gouache and found objects. When working on these collage environments, I think about the many geographical layers that lay underfoot, the physical changes that have occurred throughout time, and the vast history they represent. This current series of paintings is smaller in scale, each roughly 30" x 20", but will expand in scale and subject in the months ahead as the memories of summer continue to inform and inspire my work.